School’s Out For Summer But Not Foreva

School

That’s right! School is out! We get to be lazy and lounge around the house. Who doesn’t like that?!

When we started the school year, as a family we agreed that our homeschool structure would be year round. It seemed like a good idea at the time.

In May of this year when we were gearing up for the next round the kids told me they wanted to have the summer off.

We sat down and discussed why they felt having the summer off would be a good idea. I was hesitant to accept this route but decided to listen to their thoughts.

All three kids said they worked so hard during the year they wanted time off to spend with their cousins and friends. They just wanted to relax and celebrate their hard work and the end of our first year of homeschool. It was that simple!

How could I say no to that? The kids expressed their opinion and wanted to modify our previous plan. After all, isn’t this what homeschool is about? Having the freedom to change your schedule and meet your child’s needs? Why are we doing this if we aren’t listening to each other?

So, I expressed my concern to the kids about them possibly being bored and they brought up the point that when they were in public school they had the summer off and things were just fine.

Point taken so we changed to a “traditional” school year and the kids are really happy. We have more freedom to play around or be lazy. Having the summer off will also help with not feeling burned out.

That doesn’t mean the kids don’t have any work to do. They still need to read 15 mins a day and do XtraMath two times a week to keep their skills sharp.

We are a little over half a month into our vacation from school. Not having a scheuled day was really killing me and I decided to do something about it.

Each morning during the school year I write our schedule on the dry erase board. It isn’t rigid but mainly a guideline to make sure our work gets done. This guideline has a two-fold purpose. One is to help the kids to be independent in reading the schedule and get the task down without me asking.The second reason is so the day makes “sense” in my head.

The first couple of weeks we didn’t have this schedule was driving me crazy. This week I made a loose schedule and it has worked so well!

IMG_20170623_115835 (1)
The “Did you know” fact is changed out twice a week.  This is an example of our summer day.  It changes from day-to-day depending on what activities we have planned.

Initially, I thought having the summer off would be a bad idea but as it turns out I love it and so do the kids.

If you homeschool or send your kids to public school what activities do you have for them to keep busy? Share in the comments! 

Hectic!

I have not written a post in a little while. We have been really busy but I have been sick as well.

This is our first year homeschooling and it has been a wild ride. I plan on writing about the challenges we went though in the beginning and how things seemed to even out.

I hate having so little to say right now but I am going to use this post as a place holder.

Look for my blog about our homeschool experience that I will have up in a about a week or so.

Oh and the kids also took some more photos for photography class and we recently visited Louisiana to visit my Aunt and I took some great pictures! I will share those as well.

Sooooo, lots of catching up to do!

Untitled design (3)

 

Road Trip To Arizona

RoadTrip Cover Photo

As part of reaching my goal to visit every state in the U.S, I planned a Road Trip with my mom and sister. Unfortunately, my sister was not able to make it which created a noticeable absence. I have several friends who live in Arizona and they moved their schedules to prepare to see me so I did not want to reschedule.

We live in Texas and as Southeast as it gets! Driving towards Arizona was a big deal. The total drive according to Google would take 16 hours with 10 of those hours being used to get out of Texas!


EL PASO, TEXAS

Our plan was to drive through to El Paso and stay the night there. My father was in the Army when I was a youngster and we lived in El Paso at one point. I wanted to visit my old elementary school and apartment where we lived. Can you believe I remembered it? Well, yeah I did.

Old elem
Elementary school in El Paso I attended in Kindergarten

Having the opportunity to visit our old apartment was a blast from the past. I remember playing outside in the dust since there was no grass. You can see from the picture below that grass was just non-existent. Fun fact is we lived in El Paso the year it had this crazy amount of snow dumped on it. We went from desert to winter wonderland over night!

El paso Apt
Apartment complex we lived in

Enough about El Paso and on to the reason for the trip. Along the way we saw desert and Mountains. There was no way I was making a trip to Arizona without visiting Tombstone, the site of the famous gun fight at the O.K. Corral. By the way, I can quote the Tombstone movie word for word but never mind that ūüôā


TOMBSTONE, ARIZONA

Tombstone is very hot, dusty and dry. The people were nice and some were dressed up to mimic the old way of dress. Here are some photos of Tombstone.

city hall
Old Tombstone City Hall
GUnfight
Site of the famous gunfight at the O.K. Corral. In 1881 the Earp brothers faced off against the Clanton-Mclaury gang in this legendary shootout.
Big nose kate
Big Nose Kate’s Saloon was originally called The Grand Hotel. Kate was Doc Holiday’s common-law wife.
Bird cage(1)
Reported by the NY Times back in 1882 to be “the wildest, wickedest night spot between Basin Street and Barbary Coast.” NOW that’s a serious reputation!
Birdcage inside
Bird Cage Entrance
Wells fargo
Old Wells Fargo bank

NEW MEXICO

We did not stop at any notable places in New Mexico but I did get this really nice shot of the rising sun. We also crossed the Continental Divide which was a cool check-in for Facebook.

New Mexico
Sunrise over the Mountains in New Mexico

THE GRAND CANYON, ARIZONA

On to one of the most spectacular sights I have ever seen in person! We stayed in Mesa Arizona but I did not get any pictures. It was a three and a half hour drive to The Grand Canyon but the scenery made the drive worth it. I tried to capture the beauty and majesty of the canyon but you just have to be there to appreciate it.

A few tips when visiting the Canyon even if you do not think you will hike. Take plenty of water, even if it is not hot. The elevation at 7,000 feet will take a toll on your body. Also, pack some sustainable snacks such as jerky and trail mix. Do not feed the wild animals. We saw Elk and Ravens on our trip but you can see squirrels, mountain lions and California Condors.

I have a crazy amount of photos from the Canyon but these are the ones I feel will give you a sense of just how beautiful it really is. Let me get on and show you the pictures!

Canyon 2
The Grand Canyon
Canyon Colorado
The Colorado River
canyon script
View from the Desert View Watchtower
Canyon shoes
Resting my toes for a bit ūüôā
Canyon
Beautiful shot
Me Canyon
Sitting on top of Split Rock with the Colorado River behind me
me side canyon
Side of the Canyon
MountainPeak
Humphrey Peak as part of the San Francisco Mountains. This was on the way up to the canyon.
Watchtowe
Mary Colton’s Desert View Watchtower

The Grand Canyon was place I will never forget. I am so happy I was able to see it in person and take pictures for memories.

The trip back to Texas was driven all at once starting at 9 am on a Sunday. We arrived in home 20 hours later!! It was an unforgettable time and I hope to bring the kids when they are a bit older. I have officially updated the Life List.

Have you been to the Grand Canyon or Tombstone? If so what was your experience.

Looking For Something That Is Not Lost

Today the kids and I went Geocaching. Geocaching is the recreational activity of hunting for and finding a hidden object by means of GPS coordinates posted on a website.  This activity was part of my life list and I can now update the date!

edited-geo-slpark
Before hunting for the hidden objects.

The first search was conducted at a park near our home.  We used my phone in order to find the coordinates of the hidden object.

It was hard to know what to look for but the description and hints were  extremely helpful. Be sure to read up on Geocaching etiquette and terms.

Edited-Geo-SL.jpg
Success! The first object we found.

We moved to our second location to a business park further down the road and found this one in a muddy field. Our shoes and socks got wet but the kids had fun getting messy.

Edited-Geo-Staff.jpg
The second object we found.

We had so much fun looking for these that we plan on hunting for more in the coming weeks. I will be taking a vacation soon so I plan on looking for more objects where I will be headed.

Have you tried Geocaching? If so what was your experience?

Kids And Electronics

Kids.pngA few weeks ago the kids and I were having fun with an activity that required each of us answer 30 questions that help us to get to know each other better.

One of the questions was “What is your favorite season?”. Bri asked for clarification by asking me if I meant a television season or an actual nature season. It took me by surprise and we all laughed about it but it helped me to see a bigger problem. Ever since she was young the television has always been there.

Cartoons were my main source of entertainment growing up so I did not think it would be so bad for my daughter. Who knew the world would change so rapidly and introduce thousands of types of content and gadgets to use on them?!

My kids have always been around electronics and we own many different types. Cell phones seem to be the most convenient now since they can be carried anywhere. Audy and Mav have a cell phone but it is not activated since we feel they are too young to manage it. We bought the phones for them to play games.

On average the kids are spending five hours per day on their phone! I monitored their usage for one week. This is what I noticed:

  • Upon getting out of the bed the phones are checked to see what progress the games made overnight.
  • A breakfast, instead of talking they are on their phones checking…one last thing.
  • During the lunch break¬†they are checking the game progress again.
  • When the school day is over they have free time and most of it is spent on the phone playing games or watching YouTube videos.

That is a lot of screen time!

Now don’t get me wrong I have nothing against technology. I just felt as a family we needed to put the electronics down and focus on each other more.

During our family meeting the kids agreed to cut back on the screen time. A few rules were put into place.

  1. Cells at meal times are banned (This includes my husband and I).
  2. All cells have to be turned in at 6 pm no matter what.
  3. Cell phone use was now limited to three hours per day.

The meeting ended on a high note and with everyone feeling optimistic.

The very first day of our plan, I encountered major resistance and whining. It was like the kids were having some sort of withdrawal symptoms. When free time was over and they had to put the phones in the “Phone Home” everything came crashing down. The kids were fighting and bickering with one another. It was like for the first time in a long time they actually had to learn to interact with each other.

aviary-photo_131262911552905766
This is our Phone Home. Corny? Perhaps. Effective? Definitely!

Any mom can tell you that we do not like when our kids argue and fight with one another. It was tempting to call the whole thing off and let them get back on their phones. I am glad to say we stuck it out and the kids are cooperating with the rules. It has only been a few weeks and it was a hard fight but I found that having board games and other activities on hand really helped the kids get through the rough time. We started our family fitness nights again and it has helped the kids to get that extra energy out.

‚ÄúI sustain myself with the love of family.‚ÄĚ ¬†Maya Angelou

Have your kids gone through something similar with their electronics? What have you done to minimize screen time and maximize family time?

Quote Credit: http://www.thefreshquotes.com/family-quotes/

 

 

Homeschool Supplies

10-things-w-1You might think it would cost an arm and a leg to buy supplies for your homeschool. That is not necessarily the case. You likely have a few items around your house that could be re-purposed. Keep things simple and stick to your budget. Never underestimate dollar stores or other discount stores where you can find some of the best deals!

Now let’s get started on the list.

1. Good electric pencil sharpener. I could not even begin to relate how many inferior sharpeners we have been through.  This is an invaluable product to have. Whether you purchased cheaper pencils or the more pricier brands, a good electric sharpener will be able to get that perfect point.

2. Printer. Having a printer that can scan and has color capabilities is extremely helpful. There are so many free and valuable homeschool resources on the internet.Having the ability to print them for use in instruction is helpful.

3. Laptop/Computer. We base most of our homeschool on resources found on the internet. Even so, the kids do not spend a lot of time sitting on the computer. Be sure to install pop up blockers and teach your kids about internet safety.

4.¬†Simple Storage. I use the word simple because as mothers we tend to over think things at times. Well, at least I know I do. I purchased¬†a few mason jars (picked up from¬†the dollar store) to store pencils, highlighters and pens. I re-purposed a cube storage shelf we already owned and turned it¬†into our homeschool supply area. It’s great because we can store our books and other supplies there.

5.¬†Entertainment. We live in a major city so entertainment is not far. But during school hours we need something that is educational and fun. Netflix (no I wasn’t paid to advertise this) ¬†is great because there are many nature documentaries that go well with our science studies. It’s also fun for the kids after school to watch their favorite cartoon and unwind at the end of the day.

6. Art Supplies. I know you’re probably thinking that this is where we blow the budget. Not the case at all. We bought a few paints, brushes, crayons, markers, construction paper and small poster boards. There are so many things lying around your house that you could use for art supplies.

7. School Supplies. Since my kids were not attending public school this year we saved a ton of money on supplies. A few pencils, scissors, binders and notebooks were all we needed.

8.¬†Dry Erase Board. We have had a lot of fun with the dry erase board. It makes explaining complex subjects and ideas easier. I don’t just use the board for solving problems. It’s also used to write encouraging notes and tips of the day.

9. Teacher Supplies. Again, you do not need a lot of things. Depending on what curriculum you have settled on, you can prepare yourself for what you need. I have found an online planner that lets me keep track of the kids assignments, grading and even print report cards. I have purchased a stapler, paper clips and five subject notebook to further help me keep organized. In a later post I will explain how I use the notebook.

10.¬†Classroom Decorations. We use our dinning room for our main classroom. We have¬†a map of the world, various education posters and inspiration quotes on the walls. Even if there is limited space or you feel like you are not creative, you can still come up with a cozy spot in the house or apartment for your kid(s) to spend their school day. Homeschool is not about sitting in one room for hours. After all that is one of many reasons why we chose to keep our kids out of public school. Field trips, science experiments, family time and lounging on the couch while you complete an assignment is what homeschool is about. But it’s still nice to have an area that is dedicated to a quiet area to study.

Do you homeschool? What supplies have proved to be most useful for your family?